COMEDIAN Chris Tucker is Hollywood’s newest $20 million man, but the “Rush Hour 2” star once was so terrified of bill collectors that he’d disguise his voice to fool them — and now his trademark high-pitched squeal is earning him millions.

That’s the wacky secret behind the amazing success of the 28-year-old star, who hit the Hollywood A-list after making the original “Rush Hour” with Jackie Chan in 1998.

Tucker grew up the youngest of six kids in a working-class family in Atlanta and used jokes to keep his brothers — and their friends — from beating him up!

“Chris is absolutely crazy — what you see on screen is really him!” reveals a close friend. “When Chris was helping clean Burger Kings for his parents’ janitorial business back in Atlanta, he never dreamed he would be making millions of dollars by clowning around. But he certainly got a lot of practice in school.

“After graduating from school, he moved to Los Angeles and began performing in comedy clubs. He had a great act, but not much money — and the bill collectors were starting to call.

“They wanted their money and they wanted it NOW!

Chris’ first movie role was in 1994’s “House Party 3.”

“Chris said he’d alter his voice so it was really high-pitched when he got on the phone with the bill collectors, so he could make them think he wasn’t home.

“When other people heard it, they’d get such a big kick out of it that Chris realized it was a great comedic tool — so he incorporated it into his act.

“It’s become his trademark — and he’s literally made millions from it!”

Today, he’s living in a five-bedroom, $1.7 million mansion in Tarzana, Calif. — and his worries about bill collectors are a thing of the past. But he still goes back to visit the friends who were at his side long before he hit the big time.

“He knows his fame was a stroke of luck,” says the pal. “And he was smart enough to take advantage of it.”